In my previous posts, I've answered the question "What Is An
Outline?" from the point of view of Iron Lute. The resulting data
structures are somewhat complicated. These data structures are at the
heart of Iron Lute; if they fail, the entire program can come crashing
down. Moreover, if nobody is capable of correctly using the data
structures, they are still useless. It's worth discussing
One significant advantage a more conventional outline has over the
outline structure I've built up here is that it is much easier to
store the traditional outline in a file. Using XML, traditional
outlines are almost trivial to store:
<node text="A"> <node text="B" /> <node text="C" attribute="D" /> </node>
And now for something a little different: Dos and Don'ts
for DVD commentaries. I enjoy them but it seems somes producers need
- DO include commentaries, unless it's a DVD set of some
television show that just can't sustain interesting commentary for an
entire season. (For example, Friends, which correctly only includes
commentaries for three or four episodes per season, which based on my
sampling is almost three or four commentaries too many. I don't mean
this as a crack at Friends, which I've come to enjoy,
there just isn't enough to say about it per episode.) They are
cheap (I assume) and add a lot of value for the True Fans; this is
especially important if you have a franchise.
- DO include the original audio track under the commentary,
having it drop quieter when the commentators talk and coming back when
they stop. It is spooky to watch a movie with no audio coming from it
at all. It also gives the commentators a chance to refer to things in
the video and have us actually hear them if they want.
- DO NOT be afraid of spoiling the current video; you may
safely assume we are fans if we're listening to the commentary and
we've seen the video already. DO NOT spoil any other video
(other movies, future or even past episodes).
- DO NOT narrate the action. Again, you may safely assume
we've seen the video, and I don't need to turn on the director's
commentary to find out what is happening or what is about to
happen. Exception: You may refer to a scene to set context if you
intend to discuss it slightly before it occurs, e.g.: "In the next
scene, Johnny accidentally sets off the bomb. This posed special
challenges because...", narrated on top of a scene you otherwise have
nothing to say about.
- DO discuss: Experiences you had during filming, inside
jokes, cameos, alternate scripts or actor's ad-libbing, original and
unused ideas for the script, what was cut and why, mistakes left in
the final product, interesting history surrounding the release ("We
had to delay this episode a year because of 9-11").
- DO NOT discuss special effects, unless they are extremely
novel or involved novel challenges for the actors. It may still be
better to save it for a featurette. Computers have done a lot of
unification of special effects techniques, and as a result, they've
made almost all special effect featurettes sound virtually
identical. Exception: Movies from before the modern special effects
era: I find early 80's or late 70's (TRON, Star Trek: The Motion
Picture) special effects discussions really interesting because of how
wildly different they are from modern techniques.
- DO have at least a sketch of a plan for you want to talk
- DO make sure that if you are going to crack jokes that they
are actually funny.
- DO NOT spend a whole lot of time praising somebody you
happened to work with. Yes, it seems to be part of Hollywood culture
to praise someone up the wazoo everytime you mention them, but the
praises are stereotypical and unconvincing, especially if you praise a
lot of people. Stick with their role and at most a quick
- DO NOT be afraid to do some mimimal editing to the
commentary tracks; if you crack up in laughter, make a comment to your
sound guy, please edit it out. If you're not sure if someone is coming
into the commentary later or if something is coming in this episode or
the next, please pause the commentary and check. (It seems
silly when the series creator or movie directer is mumbling something
like "Does this happen in the next scene, or fifteen minutes from
- DO NOT be afraid to say something negative, if you can get
away with it. If the studio bothered you somehow, say so. If the actor
was half drunk, go ahead and say so. Obviously, the commentary track
should not be a whine tasting, and you need to consider the potential
other costs rationally, but this is your best chance to say something
to your True Fans, and we like a little bit of dirt sometimes.
- DO NOT include multiple commentary tracks unless the tracks
add value; I recall here the American Pie commentary track with a few
of the actors, which largely consisted of the actors laughing at their
on-screen antics, a sort of small-audience laugh track. This does not
add value. If a purchaser cares enough about the commentary tracks,
then they care enough to want a quality track.
- DO drop me a line if you
use this list in making a DVD commentary. ;-)
I just had pretty much the worst week ever at work, which accounts for
my not posting anything this week. How bad? I just finally noticed
today that I didn't post my Monday Iron Lute post.
I can only hope this week is better. Unfortunately, it doesn't show
any particular signs of improving, so posts may be slowed up this week
This week instead of continuing on with my outline series of posts,
I think I may jump ahead and discuss the file format for my outline
model, which is what I'm working on right now. Designing a file format
to hold the data hasn't been too hard, but it's been a bit of a brain
bender trying to figure out the best way to implement it. There
are a few interesting things you can do with an outline structure you
can't do with a conventional flat file, and I want to make sure that
those things are possible. What day this will get posted, I don't
know, since I still have to write it.
Hey, good news!
A federal court upheld the constitutionality of the National Do Not Call Registry on Tuesday, finally settling a legal battle around enforcement and leaving the popular list in place for the 57.2 million registered.
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